Heroku Monitoring: Visualization and Understanding Data

Heroku Monitoring: Visualization and Understanding Data

Table of Contents


Data visualization is a way to make sense of the vast amount of information generated in the digital world. By converting raw data into a more understandable format, such as charts, graphs, and maps, it enables humans to see patterns, trends, and insights more quickly and easily. This helps in better decision making, strategic planning, and problem-solving. Visualization and understanding data are critical in platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings like Heroku.


This article will explore the importance of visualization and how to utilize tools provided by Heroku, a cloud platform as a service (PaaS), for this purpose. We'll discuss various dashboard options available on Heroku, with a special focus on Hosted Graphite and Grafana by MetricFire which specializes in monitoring systems. You can use our product with minimal configuration to gain in-depth insight into your environments.


If you would like to learn more about it, please book a demo with us, or sign on to the free trial today.


Why Visualization is Important

By analyzing the data, one can extract meaningful insights that drive decision-making processes. Data analysis could be descriptive (what happened), diagnostic (why it happened), predictive (what will happen), or prescriptive (what should we do about it). This analysis becomes the basis of creating strategies, improving performance, predicting trends, and finding solutions to problems.


Now, in the context of a PaaS environment such as Heroku, here are some reasons why visualization and understanding data are critical:

Application Performance Monitoring

Applications deployed on PaaS can generate a significant amount of operational data like logs, metrics, and traces. Visualizing this data can help understand how the application is performing, identify any issues, bottlenecks, or anomalies, and make informed decisions to improve performance and user experience.


Resource Utilization and Cost Management

PaaS platforms charge based on resource utilization. By visualizing the resource usage data, you can understand how effectively you are utilizing resources, identify any waste, and take actions to manage costs better.


User Behavior Analytics

Applications on PaaS platforms often serve a large number of users, generating user activity data. By visualizing and understanding this data, one can gain insights into user behaviors, preferences, and needs. These insights can guide the development of more user-centric applications and improve user satisfaction and engagement.


Security Monitoring

PaaS platforms generate security-related data such as access logs and event logs. Visualization of this data can help identify potential security threats or breaches. Understanding this data can help you devise effective security strategies, maintain compliance, and mitigate risks.


DevOps and Agile Development

For DevOps teams, visualization can greatly aid in monitoring the CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) pipelines, tracking deployment health, and understanding the impact of code changes. It helps improve team collaboration, accelerates development cycles, and enhances product quality. 


So, both data visualization and understanding data are crucial to extracting actionable insights, driving operational efficiency, enhancing user experience, and ensuring security in a PaaS environment.



How To Use Heroku Tools for Visualization

Heroku, a leading cloud platform, simplifies the hosting of applications through streamlined deployment processes. Heroku offers a host of logging and debugging tools such as the Heroku Dashboards, Logplex, and in-dyno remote debugging, providing insights into key metrics such as CPU usage, memory usage, logs, HTTP requests, and runtime metrics. 


Additionally, the platform accommodates the integration of third-party add-ons to augment monitoring capabilities, encompassing services from error monitoring to extensive application performance monitoring (APM) solutions.


Heroku's platform includes the following inbuilt features available to all applications:

Aggregated Logs

Logs are crucial for understanding the behavior of your applications and infrastructure, aiding in troubleshooting, debugging, monitoring operations, and request tracing. They also play a pivotal role in audit and regulatory compliance. 


Heroku's Logplex service aggregates logs generated by the applications and the platform itself and retains them for a week. However, for longer storage, you can opt for a logging add-on or log drain to automatically export your logs.


Logs include:

  • Build logs

  • App logs from all running dynos

  • System logs from the Heroku platform

  • API logs representing administrative actions

  • Logs from add-on services like attached databases


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Build logs

You can access these logs via the Heroku Dashboards, Heroku CLI, or directly from Logplex.


Heroku Dashboard

The Heroku Dashboards offers a succinct summary of your applications, presenting real-time monitoring capabilities, anomaly detection, and trend analysis. The dashboard showcases an overview of your apps, resources, and add-ons, including dyno activity, metrics, logs, and events impacting your apps. Furthermore, the dashboard alerts you to potential issues and provides relevant documentation.


The dashboard provides metrics such as:

  • Memory capacity and usage

  • CPU load

  • User-induced events like configuration changes and dyno restarts

  • Heroku platform events


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Additional metrics specific to your process type, like HTTP response times and throughput for web process type apps, can also be viewed.


Language Runtime Metrics

Runtime metrics offer an in-depth understanding of your app's specific runtime environment, augmenting the dashboard's information with language-specific metrics for debugging and optimization. Heroku captures runtime metrics for multiple languages including Java, Go, Node.js, and Ruby, providing additional insights about detailed memory allocation, garbage collection runs, and latency.


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Dashboard Options for Heroku

In the context of comprehensive monitoring solutions, MetricFire's tools and applications can be integrated as Heroku add-ons. They provide in-depth, customizable metrics that augment the basic monitoring capabilities of the Heroku Dashboards, offering a complete overview of the application's performance.


Hosted Graphite

Hosted Graphite is a monitoring service offered by Metricfire that can be used as an add-on. It allows you to send your system and application metrics to be visualized and monitored. It offers automatic Heroku dashboards, Grafana dashboards, alerting, team users, support, AWS integration, and more. The service is scalable, allowing you to track every aspect of your application.


If you would like to learn more about it, please book a demo with us, or sign on to the free trial today.


HostedGraphite (HG) furnishes a comprehensive infrastructure and application monitoring solution, leveraging a suite of open-source monitoring tools. 

​​Features of Hosted Graphite include:

  • Automatic Heroku dashboards

  • Grafana dashboards

  • Alerts

  • Team user capabilities

  • Customer support

  • AWS integration

  • Scalability for comprehensive application tracking.

Here is more detailed and step up step information on how to Monitor a Heroku App with Graphite, Grafana and StatsD. 


Grafana Automatic Heroku Dashboards

Grafana is a powerful visualization tool that can be used to create dashboards for time series metrics. Utilizing Hosted Graphite allows you to instantaneously visualize your Heroku metrics on user-friendly Grafana dashboards. This tool seamlessly translates your data into real-time, comprehensible visualizations, thus facilitating enhanced understanding and decision-making. 


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Dashboards can be readily constructed utilizing data from your Heroku Log stream specific to your Dynos. These dashboards provide the flexibility to be supplemented with custom metrics, thereby enhancing the tracking and analysis of your applications. Grafana dashboards are automatically built for you once you enter the platform if you use the HG Heroku monitoring tool.


Key Features include:

Auto-Generated Visuals

Dashboards are automatically generated once you enter the platform, enabling quick setup and immediate utilization of monitoring tools.


Data Sources

Grafana integrates with a wide array of data sources, such as Prometheus, Elasticsearch, Cloudwatch, Graphite, and InfluxDB. This ensures comprehensive data collection and accurate representations of your metrics.


Dynamic Dashboards and Widgets

Dashboards consist of versatile widgets that offer varied data visualizations, including graphs, tables, heatmaps, and more. These are all available via plugins. Dashboards offer advanced features like folders for organization, variables for dynamic visualizations, user-defined time ranges, and auto-refresh for real-time updates.


Real-time Alerts

Grafana supports user-defined alerts on individual widgets. Alerts can be configured to relay notifications via multiple channels, including Microsoft Teams, Slack, email, Webhooks, and PagerDuty, ensuring critical updates are never missed.


User Management

Effective user management is available with different permission levels such as editor, viewer, or admin roles, ensuring the appropriate level of access and control for different team members.

These tools can help with application performance monitoring, resource utilization and cost management, user behavior analytics, security monitoring, and DevOps and Agile development. They provide crucial data visualization and understanding, driving operational efficiency, enhancing user experience, and ensuring security.



Managing applications effectively on a Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform like Heroku is greatly enabled by data visualization and understanding. Heroku's built-in tools, such as the Dashboard and Logplex, provide fundamental metrics that can be substantially augmented by integrating third-party tools. MetricFire, through its offerings Hosted Graphite and Grafana, provides an advanced suite for metrics and monitoring.


If you would like to learn more about it, please book a demo with us, or sign on to the free trial today. Grafana delivers automatic, real-time dashboards for Heroku, offering a comprehensive view of application performance, while Hosted Graphite allows for customized, in-depth metrics. 


Together, these tools enable optimal monitoring of application performance, resource utilization, cost management, user behavior, and security, facilitating ideal application deployment and management on Heroku. 


For more information on how to leverage these tools and more on Heroku, download our Heroku Cheatsheet

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